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Ruthven Park

A time when settlement was in its infancy along the Grand River, colourful steamships scows and large flat bottomed boats were carrying passengers logs and commodities on the waterway system. One of these settlements was the Irish village of Indiana that was beginning to develop into a thriving community. Here is where David Thompson started his familyís economic and political dynasty, building a grist mill, lumber mill, distillery and general store. As a reflection of his prosperity, Ruthven Mansion was built on a plateau overlooking the Grand River. It remains today a symbol of a bygone era.

The Mansion is a fine example of Classical Greek Revival Architecture. It is truly a masculine building reflecting the Victorian era for which it was built. The complex contains the Mansion consisting of 3 floors, 36 rooms, The barracks, Coach House, and several outbuildings. The Gatehouse stands guard at the Park entrance. The Mansion and its contents have remained virtually untouched, aside from general maintenance updates over the years. The Double drawing room is a magnificent example of Greek Revival, boasting two identical Italian black marble fireplaces. The dining room was functional, yet formal and adjoins a parlor through etched glass doors. Another feature of the main floor, is a unique oval staircase, winding up three floors to a skylight on the roof. The back wing of the Mansion was built in the 1860ís and contains a modern kitchen and living area.

Five generations of the Thompsons, a proud family of Scottish descent, have owned Ruthven Park since it was built in 1845. The dynasty began with David I, who was born to James and Margaret Thompson in 1793. David fought during the War of 1812. He accumulated wealth working as a contractor on the Welland Canal, leading him to Indiana, on the Grand River where he became a fascinating link in the Grand River Navigation Companyís tumultuous story. He was elected the first member of parliament for the County of Haldimand in the United provinces, which led the way for two more generations of Thompson men being elected to Parliament. Come join us for more history of The Thompson family, from David Ilís rise in politics in Ottawa, his son Andrew "The Colonelís" military career, the lives of the Colonelís sons Andrew and Walter, to the final generation Walterís sons, Drew and David.

One of the first things you will notice about Ruthven Park is its quiet serenity. The Park consists of nine hundred acres of Carolinian Forest, which forms part of the North Cayuga Slough Forest and wetlands. Six hundred additional acres are being actively cultivated by local farmers. There have been over four hundred different plant species identified by naturalists including ten provincially endangered plants. Bird Banding studies are currently under way. Ruthven Park is open for hiking on special event days. Throughout the generations the grounds of Ruthven have played a part in the Thompson familyís history. The family enjoyed all aspects of the outdoors: leisurely strolls, tennis, fishing the Grand, swimming, horseback riding, gardening and many hours of entertaining. Ruthven was also a working farm with livestock, orchard, and cash crops. It is also believed that throughout the 1840ís to 1870ís militia were boarded and trained at Ruthven.

The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc., is a non-profit community based charitable organization dedicated to protecting the unique natural, cultural and agricultural features of the Grand River Watershed as it courses through Brant County and the Towns of Haldimand and Dunnville. Join us in preserving this landscape for your families and future generations.

As a non profit organization, the LGRLT can offer you opportunities to assist in preserving the Lower Grand River. The key to success has been the commitment of our enthusiastic volunteers who donate their time and energy to protect this unique area. Special events, grants and donations fund our activities. Your gift, be it talents, a piece of property, membership or bequests will ensure that your family and future generations will he able to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty and history of this region.

Ruthven Park site plan and trails

Ruthven Parkís trails run through a part of the Carolinian Canada life zoneóone of the most habitat-rich and species-rich areas in Canada.

Grand Valley Trail
This historic trail was used by early settlers as a migration route from Rock Point to Brantford. The Ruthven portion of the trail consists of 2 km. of slough forest. The trail in total is 255 km. long and extends from Rock Point to Alton (Orangeville).

Indiana Trail
This easily accessible trail runs for a short distance down Mill Street in the former town of Indiana. Watch for birds and animals in their natural habitat of woods and open fields and discover their social behaviour, physical characteristics and eating habitats.

Riverside Trail
This trail has steep grades to and from the river. Views of the mansion can be seen through the "vista" openings in the slope forest. A corridor, covered with trees, shrubs and tall grasses to buffer erosion, litter and agricultural by-products, is located between the trail and the river. The corridor also provides flood protection and valuable aquatic and wildlife habitat.

Carolinian Woodland Trail
This seasonal stream provides habitat and an upland corridor for many types of wildlife and a variety of plant life.

Butterfly Meadow Trail
This trail bisects the butterfly meadow and provides intimate contact with regional meadow habitat including wildflowers, birds, butterflies and insects.

Trail Etiquette

  • Please stay on the trails to minimize damage to the sensitive plants and animal communities in the area.
  •  Leave flowers for others to enjoy. Take only photographs.
  • Wear proper footwear and be safety conscious.
  • Children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Use of motorized vehicles is prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a leash (and please scoop).
  • Trails close at sunset.

Enjoy these self-guided trails at your own risk!
If you enjoy walking the trails, please volunteer to help maintain them!
Note: After walking through natural areas, inspect yourself for ticks, and if warranted, take the necessary steps to remove (especially deer ticks).

On-going Conservation
Ruthven Park is a "work in progress" so you are likely to witness activities being carried out on the buildings and the landscape. Why not plan a return visit to see our progress?

Bird Banding
The "piggery" is now used as one of three field stations of the Haldimand Bird Observatory, one of twelve Canadian migration monitoring network organizations. Over the course of a year, approximately 3,000-3,500 birds, including 85 different species, are banded by volunteers.

243 HWY, #54, P.O. Box 610
Cayuga, Ontario
Canada N0A 1E0
Phone: (905) 772-0560  

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